Russell Wilson agrees to $245 million contract extension with Broncos

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Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos doubled down on their newly formed partnership on Thursday and added to a string of mega-deals negotiated this year for the NFL quarterback.

Wilson, who was traded to the Broncos by the Seattle Seahawks in March, agreed to a five-year extension with his new team. The deal is valued at $245 million, including a $165 million guarantee, according to people familiar with the matter. Wilson, who had two years and $51 million remaining on his previous contract, has now signed a contract with the Broncos for the next seven seasons for $296 million. Wilson will turn 34 in November.

A new ownership group for the Broncos, led by Walmart heir Rob Walton, bought the franchise from the Pat Bowlen Trust for $4.65 billion, a record price for an NFL team. The league’s team owners formally approved the deal last month.

Wilson’s contract extension with the Broncos runs through the 2028 season, during which time he will turn 40. He was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times in 10 seasons with the Seahawks, helping them to a Super Bowl title in 2013. The Broncos are hoping his arrival will reverse the fortunes of a team that missed the playoffs for six straight seasons.

The Broncos traded quarterback Drew Rock, tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris and a package of draft picks to the Seahawks for Wilson and a fourth-round pick.

Before the trade, there was speculation that the Broncos would seek a trade for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Instead, Rodgers stayed in Green Bay and agreed in March to a three-year extension worth just over $150 million.

This is the first in a series of new trades for the league’s famous quarterback. Deshaun Watson signed a five-year deal with the Cleveland Browns, who traded him in March for a guaranteed value of $230 million. In July, Kyler Murray agreed to a five-year extension with the Arizona Cardinals worth $230.5 million, including a $160 million guarantee.

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Next up could be former league MVP Lamar Jackson, who is negotiating a contract extension with the Baltimore Ravens. Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals and Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers were selected in the 2020 NFL Draft and are eligible for contract extensions after the 2022 season under NFL rules.

Watson signed his contract when he faced allegations of female sexual misconduct in two dozen civil lawsuits. Watson denies the allegations and has not been charged with a crime. But according to a settlement between the league and the NFL Players Association, he was suspended 11 games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. In recent months, several people with knowledge of the league’s inner workings said some NFL team owners were uncomfortable with the Browns giving Watson a fully guaranteed contract, especially under the circumstances.

But if Jackson, who doesn’t have an agent and negotiated with the Ravens on his own behalf, wants a fully guaranteed contract like Watson’s, he’s now facing a precedent with two huge quarterback deals done since then. — Murray and Wilson — not fully guaranteed.

Jackson is entering the final season of his contract after the Ravens exercised their fifth-year option on his original rookie deal. He’s eligible for unrestricted free agency in the spring, though Baltimore could use its franchise player tag on him. He hinted that he would suspend contract extension talks at the start of the regular season on Sept. 11.

“I think the ship of fully guaranteed contracts has sailed (at least for now),” said salary cap expert and former agent Joel Corry, tweeted Thursday. “If Russell Wilson doesn’t get one after Broncos give up multiple players [and] Multiple first-round picks give him what is easily the richest new owner in NFL history, and good luck to everyone else. “

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